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  [Wilson Creek, Near Springfield, MO]

Caney Creek Wilderness Area, AR
November, 1996



The Outdoor Club had our first backpacking trip, and it was memorable, to say the least. We hiked the Caney Creek Wilderness Trail, starting out at about 10:00AM on Saturday morning. We hiked approx. 6 miles on the trail and set up camp very close to the creek, just up on a little knoll, overlooking Caney Creek.

Just as we had set up camp it started to drizzle and on occasion started raining very lightly til the wee hours of the evening. It sounds just dreadful, but once we got our fire started, all of us got our rain gear on, cooked a nice hot meal, and the fireside conversation got started, it was a most enjoyable evening out in the peace and quiet of the deep woods. Somewhere around midnight, all hell broke loose, and the heavy rains came down, accompanied by the lightning and thunder that only a really good "toad strangling" rain produces! The rain itself was not our worry, but the fact that we had to cross our once peaceful stream at least 6 times to return to the trailhead and the safety of our vehicles.

Sure enough, once we emerged from the tents on Sunday morning, the Caney Creek was in full rage, and definitely not crossable! It had raised about a foot and half over night, and the currents were extremely swift. Now what do we do? We decided to try to navigate the side of the stream that we were trapped on and "bushwack" our way back to the trailhead. Wow what an experience that was! It started out not to bad, but then the terrain turned very steep and footing was marginal at best, sometimes being down right dangerous. We continued skirting the bluffs for about a 2 hour period and I then decided that we were going to be worn out if an alternate route was not found soon, plus it was getting later into the day.

We decided to move lower down the bluffs, back close to the creek and walk(?) along the very edges of the creek banks. This proved to be almost as hard, and just as dangerous in a number of spots. We had considered croosing the creek anumber of times, but I was reluctant to allow such a dangerous act. As the day wore on the creek slowly started to slow down and recede to a somewhat lower level, but still far higher and swifter than it was on the previous day. I crossed first to see just how navigable it was. I made it across, carrying a section of rope, which I tied off on the other side of the stream to give a safety line, just incase someone were to slip and fall into the current. Sure enough, one of us feel in the crossing, but the rope allowed him to catch his footing quickly. It was a tense moment for me, but everyone else made it across, and slowly we waded across the remaining stream crossing to return to the trailhead, safe and sound, but very tired from this adventure.

I had a great time once I had time to recap the weekend, and I believe everyone else did as well. Adversity is something that brings a group together, but also teaches us that if I can do this, what other challenges have I not attempted, either at work or in our personal lives. I for one learned alot about myself after this adventure in the Caney Creek Wilderness of Eastern Arkansas.

 
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